Archive for February, 2011
BALANGIR: Union railway minister Mamata Banerjee’s railway budget has displeased many in Balangir, particularly members of the District Railway Users’ Association that dubbed the budget a tricky one. Reason: She has sanctioned `60 crore Khurda-Balangir railway project against last year’s `120 crore.
Interestingly, only `20 crore out of the total allocation was utilized last year. The remaining Rs 100 crore was reportedly returned due to non-utilization.
“Mamatadi has skillfully halved last year’s return amount and allocated only `60 crore. This is a shame for the people of Orissa,” said president of the railway users’ association Nilamani Mishra. Speaking on the returned amount, he explained: “Last year, the amount was returned only because the approval for the 36-112 km railway line came only in January and the money couldn’t be utilized by then. “For this, the state government is to be blamed. If the unused money is returned, the fate of the project is sure to be doomed,” Mishra added.
Incidentally, the association had demanded Rs 400 crore this year for the project.
On the other hand, state youth Congress president Pradip Majhi is of the opinion: “`60 crore is not a bad at all.” He attributed the return of funds to the neglect of the government. “The project has been given due attention. What is the point of getting large sums as fund if the government is unable to use it within the stipulated time frame,” Majhi opined.
The project is touted to be a catalyst for economic development since the rail line connects western orissa with the eastern. The first survey of the project had been conducted in 1945 by the Bengal-Nagpur railway division. The planning commission approved the project finally in 1993 and it received presidential consent in 1994, with an estimated cost for the project being `383 crores. Now, the project cost has soared to `1,100 crore. Reports say, this railway line will facilitate transporting 4.5 million tonnes of goods generating a revenue of `160 crore per annum.
The demand for a separate Kosal State got louder with the Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) having organised a huge rally and meeting before the Collectorate here on Saturday, attended by delegates from eleven districts of western Odisha.
“The people have gathered here to protest against their continuous exploitation by the successive Governments at Bhubaneswar, and Kosali, not Odia is our mother tongue as well as language of the region,” observed KKD president Pramod Mishra.
All those anti-Kosal forces making capital of the resources of this region would be ousted from here by 2014. This is a token strike and protest by the people of the Kosal region and there would be many more such rallies in future. A separate Kosal State is the only solution to the problem, Mishra said further.
Condemning the reported move of the Government to mine bauxite in the Gandhmardan hills, Sajjan Kumar said the mining would destroy the precious flora and fauna of that area besides damaging the ecology beyond repair.
He called upon the KKD activists to save Gandhmardarn and save the ecology as the next 50 years would be crucial for mankind, as the deteriorating environment is going to bring damages to the earth.
He also called upon the people to reject the political party tickets and rather file nominations as KKD candidates and work for formation of a separate Kosal State.
“We would not allow lifting of kendu leaves, coal and other minerals from this region,” observed Baidyanath Mishra.
Protesting against the continuous economic exploitation of this region by the outsiders, a bandh will be observed in the 11 Kosal districts on March 31, Mishra announced.
The culture and language of the region is one of the best in the world and no political parties have worked for promotion of the Kosali Language, observed Goreknath Sahu and presented a film CD on Kosali to Pramod Mishra.
Eminent Kosali poet Haldhar Nag recited a poem in praise of the Kosal land.
Earlier, a massive rally from the Kosal Kalamandal was taken out through the town.
The KKD leaders submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister through the District Collector demanding a separate Kosal State.
Following is from the Dharitri online edition (26.02.11):
Rs.60 cr in budget may derail Khurdha Balangir railway project: Last year’s unutilized fund returned to centre
BALANGIR: The Union Railway Budget presented by Mamata Banerjee seems tricky as far as the amount allotted for Khurda-Balangir railway project is concerned.
In lieu of the return of last year’s Rs.100 crore, she has sanctioned Rs.60 crore. Last year, Rs.120 crore was allocated out of which, Rs.100 crore was reportedly returned due to non-utilisation.
Balangir district Railway Users’ Association has dubbed it as a tricky budget. The members stated that Mamata has not provided anything for the project this year but has skillfully halved the last year’s return amount and allocated only Rs. 60 crore.
“This is a shame on the people of Orissa as nothing but almost half of the returned amount has been sanctioned”, said president of the association Nilamani Mishra.
He, however, reasoned that last year the amount was returned only because the approval for 36-112 km railway line came in January and the money could not be utilised.
The association had demanded Rs. 400 crore this year for the project.
State Youth Congress president Pradip Majhi said that Rs.60 crore is not a bad allotment. He attributed the return of fund to the neglect of the State Government.
“The project has been given due attention. What is the point of getting huge funds if the State Government would not be able to use it within stipulated time frame,” said Majhi.
BALANGIR: Will the Khurda-Balangir railway project get any allocation in the Railway Budget? The project has been moving at a snail’s pace due to meager provision in the past Railway Budgets and delay in land acquisition.
The project was to be completed within five years from the date of approval but even a decade later, there has been no headway. Locals alleged step-motherly attitude of the Centre towards western Orissa and lack of will on the part of State Government to press for it. Connecting western Orissa directly with the eastern part, the project is touted to be a catalyst for economic development of the region.
Bengal-Nagpur railway division had conducted the first survey in 1945. The Planning Commission approved the project in 1993 and it received Presidential nod in 1994 with the cost estimated at Rs 383 crore. Since then the project has suffered a cost escalation due to inordinate delay in land acquisition that has gone up to Rs 1100 crore.The 350-km rail line from Khurda Road to Balangir will pass through 32 bridges including the longest one over river Tel, 403 minor bridges, 11 tunnels — the longest being 1400 meters, besides 124 level crossings and 17 stations.
Land acquisition sources said land in 13 out of the 16 villages on Balangir side have been acquired. Paucity of funds has however hampered land acquisition in the remaining three villages, said Ganeswar Kanhar, Land Acquisition Officer.In 2007, compensation for 64 acres of land was given in eight villages.
Since then only six more villages could be surveyed as the proposal for land acquisition was kept pending till the first quarter of 2010. While the civil work would be taken up only after acquisition of land for the 50 km track is complete, till now nearly 35 km is yet to be acquired. Kanhar said 36 km of civil work has been started on Khurda side.Koshal Kranti Dal leader Pramod Mishra said both the State and Central governments have been betraying people of the region. He questioned, ‘‘if in 16 years the progress of the project is 16 km only, when will the government complete 350 km’’.
MUMBAI: The Reserve Bank of India has taken a stance that India will not be part of currency wars and will let exchange rate be determined by market fundamentals.
“We believe that it is in our collective interest as global citizens if exchange rates are allowed to be determined by market fundamentals,” said RBIgovernor D Subbarao at the Convocation of Sambalpur University on Thursday.
“You all probably heard of ‘currency wars’ -a situation where countries indulge in competitive devaluation of their currencies for trade advantage. That can lead to global imbalances of several kinds. In the Reserve Bank, our policy is that we do not target a specific exchange rate or a rate band. We intervene only to smoothen exchange rate volatility and prevent disruptions to macroeconomic stability,” said Subbarao. The governor added that one of the important issues on the agenda of the G-20 nations, of which India is a part, is to reach an agreement to end currency wars. “That is to reach a shared understanding on what types of interventions may be appropriate to manage the external sector and under what circumstances,” said Subbarao.
Ironically, the governor’s comments came on a day when the rupee recorded a sharp fall following equity sales by foreign institutional investors. Oil prices also came under pressure because of a rise in oil prices and increased demand from oil companies. The domestic currency which closed at 45.12/13 against the US dollar on Wednesday touched a one-week low of 45.48/50 on Thursday.
The governor said that whenever the rupee appreciates, there is a call for RBI to intervene and bring the exchange rate down. “But depreciating the exchange rate by intervention is not a completely benign option. It hurts importers who need to spend more. It hurts the government as it has to spend more on subsidizing imports such as oil and fertilizers and also spend more on external debt servicing. Intervention can also fuel inflationary pressures in which case it hurts everyone,” said Subbarao.